Panama's location is strategically convenient at the crossroads of two oceans - the Pacific and the Atlantic -, and between North and South America. Panama was once a part of Gran Colombia, together with Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, but gained its independence in 1903, with the help of the United States. Thereafter, the United States gained sovereignty over a strip of land, upon and through which the Panama Canal was built. In 1999, the Panama Canal was fully transferred to Panama control and since then has fueled the Panamanian economy.
Today, Panama has an estimated population of around 4.3 million people, about 430,000 of them living in the capital and largest city Panama City, which is located at the Pacific entrance to the Canal. Around 68 percent of the country's inhabitants live in urban areas and cities. Population growth is decreasing somewhat, likely due to a slight reduction of the fertility rate.
The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal and its services and operations are the main source of GDP for Panama. The services sector contributes almost three quarters to Panama's GDP and employs a similar share of the workforce. GDP per capita in Panama was at around 15,000 U.S. dollars between 2017 and 2019, but not all Panamanians benefit equally, and inequality and poverty remain a problem.
The Panama Canal underwent a decade-long expansion project, which finished in 2016, to allow for additional thoroughfare, which was expected to double the current Canal's capacity and subsequently increase GDP. This investment as well as other public infrastructure projects, such as the completion of a metro in Panama city, have increased government debt but at the same time added economic growth . Besides the Canal, bananas are the only major cash crop. Ties with the United States continue to be strong, as the United States is also Panama's most important import and export trade partner.
Even though the Panama Canal supports and contributes a great deal to the economy, as mentioned previously, inequality is still a major problem in the country, as is corruption, drug trafficking and money laundering. These problems will need to be addressed, especially as tourism to Panama increases.
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In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 34 most important statistics relating to "Panama".